How to master the eBay data feed to gain visibility and sales
October 25, 2018
eBay sees 113 million unique visitors each month. It’s one of the most popular ecommerce channels on the planet and also one of Amazon’s top competitors in the US. There are numerous reasons for brands and retailers to advertise on eBay, including the channel’s strength, the popularity of its mobile app, and its focus on unique or used products, making a good eBay data feed essential. <br> Key eBay Stats
- 175 million active buyers
- <1 billion live listings
- 414 million app downloads
Though extremely popular, eBay is also highly unique - a trait that is particularly apparent in the eBay data feed requirements. With different attributes and best practices, a complete eBay feed won’t be the exact same as a Google or Amazon feed. Let’s start with the absolute basics before getting into opportunities for optimization.
Basic feed types and their requirements
First, let’s break down the different types of feeds. Businesses of any size and industry will start by uploading their data to the Merchant Integration Platform (MIP). While eBay does require many of the same attributes as other channels, these attributes can be broken up into different feeds or combined into one. <br/> These are the most basic types of eBay data feeds: <ul> <li>Product feed: Includes product details like title, description, or image URL. This feed is required in order to list products on eBay.</li> <li>Availability feed: Informs eBay about a business’s current availabilities. This should be uploaded after SKUs from the product feed are processed.</li> <li>Distribution feed: Includes relevant business policies about payment, pricing, shipping, and returns.This should be uploaded after the product and availability feeds.</li> <li>Combined feed: This has it all! You can opt to use a single combined feed to submit data for all of the above feeds at once.</li> <li>Inventory feed: Contains up-to-date information about the price and availability of products already listed. You may choose to pause your product feed and use the inventory feed to keep on top of product changes. This is faster and simpler than re-uploading all of your already existing products and data.</li> <li>Location feed: Specifies the local store or warehouse location of listed products. This is also needed for buy online pick up in store items.</li> </ul> Here are the required attributes that must be included in your eBay product feed.
There are several additional feeds that are used for strengthening visibility or managing your main feed: <ul> <li>Item-specifics feed: Obtains eBay’s “item specific” recommendation for products. These are more detailed descriptions that help define your product... but more on that later!</li> <li>Classification feed: Includes the categories associated with your products.</li> <li>Delete-inventory: Used to delete one or more SKUs from MIP.</li> <li>Availability-bopis (Buy Online, Pick up In Store): Used to set up Buy Online Pick up In Store option.</li> <li>Order fulfillment feed: Details product orders and shipments.</li> <li>And many others.</li> </ul>
You may have realized just how differently eBay operates when compared to Amazon or Google. Listing on this channel will require a small shift in the way you think about and optimize your feed.
Optimizing attributes for clicks and sales
There are several optimizations that can be made to a product data feed in order to drive returns. In order to get shoppers to click and convert, data must be complete, professional, and compelling. Be sure you optimize important product attributes in order to drive interest and sales. Not sure where to start? Here’s what you can do:
Titles & subtitles
As with every channel, there is one key attribute to achieving success: the product title. Keep eBay product titles under 80 characters. These should use only objective information rather than emotional words like “best” or “popular.” Titles over 80 characters should be entered into a Custom Field, where they can then be used in a product’s description template.
Then there are subtitles. These appear right under the title, providing businesses with an extra 55 characters to describe their products. These do cost extra to use on eBay, but <a href="https://title-builder.com/what-we-learned-from-analyzing-961668-ebay-item-titles-about-ebay-seo/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">studies</a> have found correlations between subtitles and high sales. This is likely because they allow businesses to include more key selling points and make their product listings stand out better.
Unique product identifiers
For many categories, unique product identifiers will be required for any product that is produced by a manufacturer or brand. That includes just about anything that isn’t handmade. Advertisers should always plan to submit either a GTIN, or a brand and MPN. If possible, provide all three.
Even when not required, unique identifiers make data feeds stronger by helping with SEO. Therefore, always try to include them in your feed when available.
Image requirements and best practices
eBay isn’t as strict as Google and Amazon when it comes to product images. This is likely because eBay has a huge amount of used and unique products, so not every unit of the same product will look the same. However, eBay is still more conservative than marketing-focused channels like Facebook or Instagram. In short: while mannequins and colored background are allowed, promotional information is not.
Image requirements specific to eBay: <ul> <li>Minimum: 500 pixels on the image’s longest side.</li> <li>No borders, text, promotional copy, or graphics are allowed.</li> <li>Stock photos can only be used for new items.</li> </ul>
TIP: eBay reports that photos combining these practices with images larger than the basic requirement are <a href="https://pages.ebay.com/seller-center/listing-and-marketing/photo-tips.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5% more</a> likely to sell. <br/>
Mastering Best Match to show up in search and gain visibility
There’s a certain AI everyone listing on eBay should know about: Cassini. This is the search engine on eBay and it will determine when and where your product shows up. In many ways, Cassini is straightforward. It grades products based on a series of (somewhat mysterious) data points to create a score reflecting how well a product matches the given search. Whichever product returns the highest score goes on top of the results. Therefore, products that seem to be the “best match” for the search will show up higher in search results. This is what eBay sellers should aim to optimize for. <br/> Many of the factors Cassini considers won’t be related to product data. Poor feedback, shipping costs, and return policies will all affect a product’s ranking. There are, however, some data feed optimizations any seller can make in order to get on Cassini’s good side and better win search listings.
1. Include the Item Specifics data feed
Attributes in eBay’s Item Specifics data feed help the search engine understand exactly what the product is. This directly helps Cassini classify products and is commonly used to boost eBay SEO.
|Optional||Group ID||Channel ID||Attribute||Variation Vector, Variation Attributes|
2. Add Catalog listing information
As eBay grew in popularity in the 90s and 2000s, it also became more crowded with sellers. This led to a somewhat complicated customer experience, and eBay had to come up with ways of keeping product listings clean and reliable. One key tool is the Catalog, which has also become required for some product types. <br/> The Catalog is an online library of standardized product details and images. eBay strongly encourages sellers to use this information in their listings. Because eBay knows this data is correct, it helps ensure that product listings are consistent and useful. It also helps shoppers find all of the sellers of the particular item they’re searching for. <br/> Even when not required, this is a key tool to winning on eBay. Be sure to still add unique images of your own to make your listing stand out.
3. Always optimize product titles
Title is just as important on eBay as it is on other sites. Always include 3-5 keywords that the searcher is likely to use. This will help Cassini recognize how relevant your product is to the search. Lastly, titles should be unique and not identical to other catalog entries. <br/> Beware of common errors. <ul> <li>Remove details about accessories and information that isn’t about the primary offering</li> <li>Remove information about condition, store name, and site information</li> <li>Use capitalization where appropriate to increase readability</li> <li><b>Research to find smart and relevant keywords that help products surface for qualified searches</li> </ul>
4. Help shoppers discover your product with eBay categories
Shoppers don’t find products only through the search bar. They can also narrow down their options using product categories. These categories also help Cassini understand the product. It’s common practice on other channels to add Google product categories or category type, and it’s the same reasoning here. This data makes your products more understandable to the channel.
Changes occur somewhat regularly to these categories, so stay up to date by visiting eBay’s <a href="https://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/news/fallupdate16/category-and-item.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dedicated page</a>.
Don’t forget: eBay fees are different, and you may have to shift your strategies
Fees are yet another area where eBay will be slightly different. Marketers won’t be working with a basic CPC bidding format. Sellers on eBay who have an eBay Store get 50 free (basic) listings upfront. That means there are no extra fees just to list the products. Beyond this 50, there will be an Insertion Fee for each product. On top of this, eBay will charge different amounts for different listings, depending on:
<ul> <li>The product’s price</li> <li>The product’s format and category</li> <li>Additional listing upgrades (such as subtitle)</li> <li>Seller performance</li> </ul>
For those marketers planning to start selling on eBay, be sure to get these straight or you could be in for a surprise. <br/> Other fees you may have to pay in order to create an optimized listing include fees for:
<ul> <li>Bolding</li> <li>Scheduled listings</li> <li>Additional pictures</li> <li>Listing in multiple categories</li> </ul>
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Senior Content Creator